The author believes that the concentration and focus required to read a novel is becoming less and less prevalent, as potential readers turn instead to computers or to television. "I was being optimistic about 25 years really. I think it's going to be cultic. I think always people will be reading them but it will be a small group of people. Maybe more people than now read Latin poetry, but somewhere in that range,"Okay, Mr Roth. Let's go through these sentiments and shoot them down one by one.
1. Film as a form of entertainment has existed for almost 100 years. In these 100 years, literacy rates have risen. Yes, obviously part of the reason they've risen is because education standards have gone up along with technological advancements, but with this rise has come the concept of the mass-market book. People didn't stop reading because they could go to the movies; why should that happen today? What's changed?
2. The computer as a popular form of entertainment has been around for about fifteen years. Now, this may seem like hardly any time but in today's culture, things change quickly and decisively. Look how long it took eReaders to become normal. If the computer was going to eliminate the novel, wouldn't it be showing significantly by now? If anything, the computer has helped many people learn about literature, access certain books, and has made book-buying a much simpler thing.
3. Behold. This is an online journal that talks about books (and only books). Including novels. This "cult" of readers is massive - there are hundreds (thousands?) of books bloggers currently active, tens of thousands of Facebook users join book/reading related groups, hundreds of thousands of people write reviews on sites like Amazon, Goodreads, and LibraryThing, and many more elsewhere. Are these large numbers just part of a "small group"? The number of people that read Latin poetry is... er... I have no idea. Maybe the reason people don't read Latin poetry is because nobody speaks Latin fluently. It's a dead language, remember? And how to define "a small group of people"? But let's assume for a moment that reading really is in decline. How in decline will it get? Do I, child of the internet, substitute reading literature with time spent on the computer? Absolutely not. Do I watch television for the same reasons I read? Even less so.
Mr Roth is basically saying (as others have before him) that the written word is dying and will be something so minute that it'll turn cult-like. I vehemently disagree. Literary phenomena like "Harry Potter", "Twilight", Dan Brown and others may incite his (and others) wrath (quality drop, blah blah) but there they are. Millions of people around the world continue to buy books. Millions of these will still be alive in 25 years. Still be reading novels. Still be teaching their children to love and appreciate the written word. There may be many things to be frightened of with the future of books, but that they won't exist globally in the coming years is not one of them. Is Roth simply concerned about his own name in history? Don't worry, sir, your novel legacy is good so far.